A very serious criminal situation encountered often by our criminal defense team is related to the legal consequences of not paying the child support (alimony) amount ordered by Court. In this context, many Florida citizens do not realize that not paying child support can lead to a criminal offense and the necessity to hire a specialized criminal defense lawyer for advice and representation.
According to the law in Florida, every child has the right to financial support from both parents until the age of 18. The Department of Revenue is the state agency responsible for Florida’s Child Support Enforcement Program and can locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, get support orders and enforce support orders.
An order for support is enforceable in Florida and all other states. It is the law that the support be paid on time and in the full amount. In this context, the Child Support Enforcement Program uses many tools to make sure the noncustodial parent pays the support, including income deduction, seize of assets, lien, different state licenses suspension and even reporting the person to potential new employers. Besides these tools, failing to pay child support can also lead to criminal charges, including contempt of Court.
If the noncustodial parent does not pay the ordered support on time, it is a violation of the support order and law enforcement or affected civil parties can ask the judge to find the parent in contempt of court. The judge may order appropriate sanctions to compel compliance by the other party, including jail, payment of attorneys’ fees, suit money, or costs, and coercive or compensatory fines, and may order any other relief permitted by law.
In this context, the court may issue an arrest warrant. The warrant is put on the statewide crime computer, which all Florida law enforcement agencies use and an officer can arrest the noncustodial parent at home, at work or even during a routine traffic stop.
As you can see, a seemingly minor civil issue can be transformed in a criminal case, which leads to significant potential penalties. In such a situation, it is best to ask the advice of a criminal defense attorney. Our experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense team can help with legal counseling and representation in Court and help you avoid criminal charges and additional legal and financial issues.